Taylor Swift merchandising sales boost Universal Music’s results

Jul 26, 2023
Illustration shows Universal Music Group logo

By Alessandro Parodi

(Reuters) -The sale of Taylor Swift merchandising pushed revenue at Universal Music Group in the second quarter, the world’s largest record label said on Wednesday.

The American pop star’s ongoing “Eras Tour” has attracted enough fans to help boost hotel and restaurant revenue in cities across the world, and even contribute to concert ticket inflation, a phenomenon that some economists have termed “Swiftflation.”

“Recently, Taylor Swift became the very first woman in history to have four albums in the top 10 simultaneously, including this week’s number one,” the company’s chief executive, Lucian Grainge, told analysts on a conference call.

Universal Music’s merchandising revenue grew 12% to 157 million euros ($173.77 million) in the April-June period, also fuelled by a strong performance from Swift, the group said.

This more than offset a decline in Universal Music Group’s touring revenue from the outsized growth recorded in 2022 as COVID-19 touring bans were lifted, it added.

Total revenue was 2.7 billion euros in the quarter, while its margin on adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) stood at 21.9%, the company reported.

Universal Music expects recent price increases at Spotify to boost revenue starting from the fourth quarter and into 2024, its chief financial officer, Boyd Muir, said on the conference call.

Spotify had on Monday raised prices for its premium plans across several countries including the U.S. and Britain.

Major labels like Universal Music grab the overwhelming majority of Spotify’s revenue and are the main beneficiaries of the streaming firm’s strong user growth.

Apart from Swift, other top sellers in the second quarter were South Korean boy band Seventeen, King & Prince, Morgan Wallen, and Stray Kids, Universal Music said.

($1 = 0.9035 euro)

(Reporting by Alessandro Parodi in GdanskEditing by Toby Chopra, Barbara Lewis and Matthew Lewis)